South Stoneham House in Swaythling has had many purposes and owners in its long history.

The land where the house stands was known as Bishop's Stoneham, with records of the manor tracing back as far as the 11th century. This hints at a long-standing settlement on the site.

Edmund Dummer, a former Surveyor of the Navy, expanded his family's holdings with approximately 300 acres of land upon acquiring the South Stoneham estate for the price of £3,400 in 1705.

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The construction of the house in 1708, intended as Dummer's residence, has been attributed to Nicholas Hawksmoor in a building listing by Historic England.

The actual building work was overseen by Dummer's relative, Thomas Dummer of London. Edmond Dummer, originally from nearby North Stoneham. He had roots in the area and was baptised in St Nicolas' Church.

Daily Echo: South Stoneham House.

The grounds of the house encompassed 110 acres of land, including 5 acres of water.

In 1711, the unfortunate financial downfall of Edmund Dummer led to his declaration of bankruptcy, resulting in his untimely demise in debtors' prison just two years later.

His cousin Thomas, a knowledgeable lawyer who had acquired the manor on Edmund's behalf, found himself embroiled in a legal battle to secure control of the property.

However, in 1716, Edward Nicholas of Newton Valence swooped in and took ownership of South Stoneham after purchasing it from Edmund Dummer's daughter, Jane.

The manor then passed into the hands of William Sloane, sibling of the renowned British Museum founder Hans Sloane, in 1740.

Daily Echo: South Stoneham House.

It wasn't long before William's son, another Hans Sloane, inherited the property and later ventured into politics by becoming a member of Parliament.

During the years 1772 to 1780, the extensive gardens underwent a transformation under the skilled hands of Capability Brown, with an investment of £1,050.

Frances Elizabeth Eyre, later Countess Nelson of Trafalgar and of Merton as wife of Thomas Nelson, was born at the house.

The estate saw ownership under Jean Louis Bazalgette in the early 19th century, a descendant of a French family of tailors hailing from Ispagnac, France, born in 1750.

Venturing north at a young age, within five years Bazalgette had established himself as a reputable tailor in London. Notably, he was tasked by George, the Prince Regent, to journey back to his homeland during a period of war between England and France to procure a specific fabric for a waistcoat desired by the prince.

Daily Echo: South Stoneham House

John Lane later acquired the estate from Bazalgette for £15,000 in either 1809 or 1810, although Lane faced financial difficulties leading to bankruptcy, prompting the sale of the manor in 1815.

In the year 1819, a significant acquisition took place when John Willis Fleming purchased the property. This new addition complemented his existing ownership of the manor of North Stoneham, where a grand residence was under construction at North Stoneham Park.

Upon the finishing of the freshly built North Stoneham House, John Willis Fleming relocated there, allowing General Joseph Gubbins to lease South Stoneham House until his passing in 1832. Following a significant fire at North Stoneham in 1831, John Willis Fleming moved back to South Stoneham House after Gubbins' demise, while the reconstruction of North Stoneham took place.

By 1834, the rebuilding of North Stoneham was complete, prompting South Stoneham House to be once again put up for lease.

During the later years of the 1830s, Colonel Boucher took up residence in the property.

Daily Echo: 2 Nov 2016 - Photo Stuart Martin - South Stoneham House and surrounding buildings in Wessex Lane which are boarded up and covered in scaffolding.

The house was put up for rent once more in 1843.

Charlotte Maria Beckford, who had resided at Chawton House and shared a connection with the renowned writer Jane Austen from their time in Chawton, decided to lease South Stoneham House alongside her sister, Lucy Middleton.

Mrs Beckford passed away at the ripe age of 86 within the walls of South Stoneham House on June 25, 1854.

Following her death, Thomas Willis Fleming, the second son of John, became the new resident of the house after purchasing it from his older brother in 1857.

He resided there until 1860/61 when the property was then leased to a WC Standish.

Daily Echo: The gardens at South Stoneham House.

In 1875, the Willis Flemings decided to list their property on the market, eventually finding a buyer in 1878 for £20,000 - Captain Thomas Davison.

Released on November 23, 1875, the auction brochure featured Wood Mill, which continues to thrive today as an outdoor recreation hub. Also included were Gascon Cottage and prime land for future development.

Samuel Montagu acquired South Stoneham House from Davison in 1888, eventually earning the title of the first Baron Swaythling in 1907.

One notable improvement made during his ownership was the addition of a spacious porch at the house's main entrance.

Following this purchase, Samuel also acquired Townhill Park House for his son Louis, who chose to reside there even after his father's passing in 1911.

Daily Echo: 2 Nov 2016 - Photo Stuart Martin - South Stoneham House and surrounding buildings in Wessex Lane which are boarded up and covered in scaffolding.

In 1920, the University College Southampton - now the University of Southampton - acquired the property.

It was transformed into a hall of residence for male students, fostering a collegiate atmosphere.

Students even wore gowns for dinners and lectures, adding to the traditional feel.

The house was no longer used for student accommodation after 2005.

The university deemed the student facilities and rooms outdated, leading to its closure.

Daily Echo: South Stoneham House.

The University of Southampton had plans for the site's future, aiming to redevelop it as part of the Wessex Halls of Residence Campus, but these never came to fruition and the building has stood boarded up for many years.

South Stoneham House tells tales of various eras, from its early manorial roots to its time as a grand residence and a centre of student life. While its student accommodation days are over, and its future unclear, there is hope that a new lease of life will fill the building again one day.